Ditch Those Bras and Panties!
Brace yourselves. I’m about to go on record and admit something deeply personal.
Looking back, I’ve decided that the best part of enduring a global pandemic wasn’t the ability to work from home. (I’d done that since 2005.) For me, the real silver lining was ditching my bras and panties.
Now, before your mind goes to a weird place, let me clarify. I didn’t embrace a nudist philosophy and go totally au naturelle (that might have been awkward during Zoom calls with clients). However, I stopped worrying about any need for restrictive undies. Oh, the freedom!
You know what I’m talking about, ladies. How many times have you returned home from work or a day outside the home and immediately released your tatas from that horrid contraption called a bra? How often do you simply skip underwear altogether, because it just feels so much more comfortable?
Although things are returning to normal, and people are once again out and about, one thing hasn’t changed in my daily routine. I’m still enjoying my freedom.
Besides boosting my comfort level, leaving the bras and panties in my chest of drawers has some surprising health benefits. Let’s break them down, and explore some unfounded rumors about what happens when you go without undergarments.
Does not wearing a bra make you saggy?
Saggy boobs. It’s one of the biggest fears most women have about their bodies. Yes, our breasts naturally sag with age. Short of getting a boob job, there’s not much we can do to change it.
The official medical terminology for breast sagginess is ptosis. No matter what you call it, women want to know why it happens. Besides age, some other reasons our breasts sag include:
- Collagen deficiency
- Estrogen deficiency
- Larger breast size
- Multiple pregnancies
- Rapid weight loss
What about going for an extended period without wearing a bra? Can that contribute to premature breast droop? The subject matter experts say no.
Saggy boobs and going braless
You’ll get no argument from most women about the power of a good-fitting bra to lift up their breasts front and center. However, not wearing a bra doesn’t encourage your boobs to wilt. That’s a rumor that needs to be put to rest because it does more harm than good.
Just like wearing a bra 24/7 isn’t going to magically make your breasts perkier, going braless isn’t going to make them prematurely droop. Don’t bother to wear even the most expensive bra based on this unfounded rumor.
Breast cancer and going braless
A study of more than 1,500 women found no link between bras and an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Conversely, going braless doesn’t impact cancer risk, one way or the other.
Some science-backed breast cancer risk factors include:
- Age – 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are discovered in women 55 or older.
- Genetics – between 5 and 10% of breast cancers are caused by mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes that can be passed from mother to child.
- Family History – if you have close relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer it increases your risk.
- Smoking – research shows smoking causes a higher risk of breast cancer in young women and can continue to increase risk after menopause.
What are the health benefits of going braless?
Remember when I said that going braless was about more than comfort? It turns out there are some surprising health benefits to skipping those boob prisons and letting the girls fly free.
- It increases circulation. There’s a reason wearing a bra feels so constricting. Wearing one (especially one with underwire) can reduce blood flow to the muscles in your back and chest. If you regularly have aching chest and back muscles that can’t be attributed to any other cause, your bra might be to blame. Women with larger breasts may notice the most benefit in this area when skipping a bra for the day.
- It improves muscle tone. It’s a common misconception that wearing a bra can “train” your breasts to be more shapely. Like so many other claims, this one is false. Wearing a bra can weaken the muscles that support your breasts. Going without one encourages your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to provide natural support.
- It improves breast skin health. Wearing a bra regularly, especially in warmer weather, can trap moisture against your skin. Bacteria can build up in sweaty bras, causing breast infections and other uncomfortable skin conditions.
What are some alternatives to going braless?
OK, going braless might not be for everyone. Maybe you work in an office with a “bra-positive” dress code. Or you might be well-endowed and feel like it’s a little too noticeable when you don’t wear a bra.
Whatever your reasons for committing to the cups, you can still make simple changes that will increase your comfort.
Get rid of the underwire
Somewhere along the way in the history of bras, someone got the bright idea that underwires were a must in any high-quality bra. Clearly, that person never wore an underwire bra.
In fact, wearing an underwire garment for several hours can hurt your ribs, especially if it’s too tight. Furthermore, low-quality underwire bras can end up injuring you if the underwire pokes through the fabric and into your delicate breast tissue.
You no longer need to torture yourself with underwire, even if you have larger breasts and require extra support. There are many bras on the market today sans underwire that are comfortable and supportive.
Consider a sports bra
Most physically active women have worn sports bras when working out. These specialty bras are designed with activity in mind. Not only do they provide ample support during running and other high-impact movement; they also are made from softer materials than most bras on the marketplace.
The only caveat with wearing a sports bra regularly is it might increase your risks of developing skin rashes or other irritations because sports bras can be more compressive than regular bras.
Is it healthier to “go commando?”
Since Adam and Eve first realized they were naked, humans have gone to great lengths to cover themselves. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that women started wearing what would be considered proper underwear, called knickers.
As undergarments have evolved, some women have opted to forgo panties altogether. After all, it’s the best way to eliminate panty lines and wedgies.
Health benefits of not wearing underwear
Did you know there are health benefits to going commando?
Fewer urinary tract infections and yeast infections are among the most notable advantages of not wearing underwear. That’s because panties can trap moisture against your vagina, creating an ideal breeding ground for vaginal yeast infection.
Friction from lacey lingerie definitely ups the chances of your delicate vaginal tissue becoming dry and irritated. This is especially true and troublesome for post-menopausal women. If this is a problem for you, I recommend ditching those frilly undies some (if not all) of the time. Chances are, you’ll get relief.
If you can’t tolerate the thought of going all day without undies, at least skip them overnight. It can be a great way to ease into the practice.
Do you need to adjust your wardrobe sans undies?
There are some drawbacks to not wearing undies. One of the most consequential: it can limit the types of clothing you feel comfortable wearing. Tight clothes (made out of virtually any fabric) can chafe and irritate your sensitive vaginal tissue. Plus, they can cause you to sport the infamous “camel toe.” Not a good look!
Also, make sure you wash and change your clothes regularly if you live a commando lifestyle. Your genitals play host to all sorts of bacteria that can cause health issues if you let them build up in your jeans and other clothing.
One final piece of advice: don’t try on store clothing without wearing underwear. Not only can you transfer your vaginal bacteria to the clothing, but you also can pick up ickiness left there by other customers who tried on the clothes before you.
Letting it all hang out
Of course, tossing out your bras and underwear is a very personal choice. There’s no right or wrong answer to whether you should give it a try. Go with your gut, do your research, and choose what works best for your health goals and lifestyle.
About the Author: Shari Berg is a researcher, frequent blogger, feature writer, and author of Wars End with Me.
- 15 Best Wireless Bras for Support and Comfort. goodhousekeeping.com. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Breast infection. medlineplus.gov. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- BRCA Gene Mutations: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing. cancer.gov. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Breast Cancer Risk Factors. breastcancer.org. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Breast ptosis: causes and cure. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk: A Population-Based Case-Control Study. aacrjournals.org. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Female breast anatomy. mayoclinic.org. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Is It Bad to Not Wear a Bra? health.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Smoking and risk of breast cancer in the Generations Study cohort. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- The History of Underwear: Between Past, Present, and Inclusiveness. theitalianreve.com. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Vaginal microbiome. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed January 5, 2023.
- Vaginal yeast infections. womenshealth.gov. Accessed January 5, 2023.